Scheme has trained professional journalists and developed public and private partnerships across the country.
IWPR’s flagship journalism training program at the Libyan University of Tripoli has become an integral part of the country’s invigorated media scene, with more than 4,000 students graduating from its unique hands-on program.
MediaLab co-founder and former director Dr Khaled Gulam described its launch in March 2014 as “a turning point in the history of media and media education in Libya”.
Gulam, now executive director of Libyan national broadcaster Al Wataniya, recalled how staff and students refused to be discouraged by the new outbreak of violence that year which turned into another civil war apart whole.
“We were not going to give up,” he continued. “I must admit, however, that the level of our success was much greater than we anticipated.”
Since its inception in the early 1990s, the University of Tripoli’s media department had focused solely on theory, lectures, and classroom exercises. The MediaLab, the first “skills incubator” of its kind, was designed to fill this practical gap.
“A turning point in the history of media and media training in Libya.
Dr Khaled Gulam, co-founder and former director of MediaLab
It provided a modern learning environment with two fully functioning television and radio studios, with 15 workstations and over a dozen cameras and recording devices. A group of Libyan media professionals and academics, with support from the university, worked together to design the program.
Even in the midst of the fighting, the MediaLab program was able to bring students from towns and villages across the country – including areas of active conflict – to Tripoli for student exchanges. Gulam recalled how a student told him at the time that “MediaLab is capable of achieving what politicians are not”.
The MediaLab was also able to organize internships and even help find jobs for several of its graduates at outlets in Libya and the region, as well as hosting students and faculty from six other higher education institutes in across the country, providing valuable knowledge for media studies programs. in these schools. He also provided media training to over 100 communications officers in Libyan government administrations.
Gulam said it was especially important that three-quarters of MediaLab’s students were women.
“We have also developed a training program specially adapted to the needs of women journalists,” he continued. “During each of the program sessions, we invited a Libyan woman who is a model in journalism or the arts. In a culturally conservative country, such an opportunity to practice true journalism and challenge fears and concerns established by social norms was an exceptional contribution and an unprecedented platform to promote women’s leadership and self-confidence.
In 2019, the Coalition Forum on Media and Education for Development in Africa (CAFOR) highlighted the MediaLab as an “innovation that has succeeded in increasing the inclusion, quality and impact of education. and training in an African country in crisis ”.
The Tripoli MediaLab was established with a grant from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with support from the United States later. He subsequently received support from the Libyan Ministry of Culture as well as fundraising and donations from students and teachers for new equipment.
“The MediaLab has become an integral part of press freedom and freedom of expression in Libya and has developed several partnerships with public and private media in Libya and has been able not only to produce professionally trained journalists, but also to help them find employment opportunities for them. in the Libyan media, ”Gulam said. “There is no doubt that the increase and professionalization of human resources in the media sector in Libya has helped to further strengthen the freedom of the press acquired since the revolution.
“For example, our own students have sometimes criticized us, which would have been inconceivable a decade ago – and which I personally regard as a good example of freedom of speech and of the press in which the University of Tripoli, l ‘IWPR and others have played a huge role. “